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[WATCH] Busuttil’s dithering over IIP true risk to real estate sector, Muscat warns

Joseph Muscat plays down Malta Files as a 'storm in a teacup' • Recovering cancer patient says Salvu Mallia's insult to PM 'hurt me more than my cancer'

tim_diacono
Tim Diacono
24 May 2017, 6:45pm
Last updated on 24 May 2017, 7:48pm
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat addresses a political activity in Birkirkara. Photo: Chris Mangion
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat addresses a political activity in Birkirkara. Photo: Chris Mangion
 

Simon Busuttil’s indecision and U-turns over the sale-of-citizenship scheme poses a serious risk to the real estate sector, Prime Minister and Labour leader Joseph Muscat warned.

Addressing a political activity in Birkirkara, Muscat dismissed Busuttil’s warnings that the financial services and real estate sectors will be dealt a damaging blow if Labour wins the election as such a vote would amount to a green-lighting of corruption.

“If these companies were going to leave, then they would have already left,” he said. “He’s playing the same broken record that we’ve been hearing for a long time To the people working in construction, I ask you whether you have ever has much work as you’ve had in the past four years.”

He noted that Busuttil had originally been against the Individual Investor Programme (IIP) out of principle, but recently said that he will keep the scheme, and later said that he will change it.

“We still don’t know exactly how he plans to change the IIP, and that it was what will bring uncertainty,” he said. “There is a risk that Busuttil will become Prime Minister, lead a government with a one-seat majority in Parliament and have to negotiate with Marlene Farrugia who is against the IIP in principle. That is when foreigners will tell us ‘thank you and goodbye’”

Muscat also warned that the PN’s electoral promises are unsustainable and disproportioante and, if implemented, will force a future government to raise taxes elsewhere.

“We won’t enter an auction of proposals with them, but instead stick to our costed plans. It’s easy to make promises, but at the end of the day the promises will be funded by taxpayers’ money, and we don’t want to reach a situation when we’ll be forced to increase taxes.”

‘Malta Files a storm in a teacup’

Muscat also played down the recent publication of the Malta Files as a storm in a teacup, arguing that he hasn’t heard such complaints about Malta’s taxation system from European leaders and ministers.

Relying on 100,000s of documents published by the European Investigative Collaborations, the Malta Files details how the island is used as a European centre of tax avoidance. The research was undertaken by 13 European media houses, including MaltaToday.

However, Muscat took heart from its lack of coverage from “the largest international media houses”

“The fact that many large foreign media houses ignored this news shows that there is nothing to worry about,” he said.

‘Salvu Mallia’s insult to Muscat hurt me more than my cancer’

The political activity was also addressed by Mariella Attard, a recovering cancer patient who recounted her “pain” upon hearing PN candidate Salvu Mallia describe Joseph Muscat as a cancer.

“A day after my fourth round of chemotherapy, I found out that Salvu Mallia had compared Muscat to cancer, and that comment hurt me even more than the chemotherapy I had received a day earlier,” she said. “Although I was in pain, I wrote a letter on Facebook to Simon Busuttil to ask him why he is allowing a potential minister to speak in that way. I asked him whether he knows how painful cancer is, how much the treatment induces you to tears. I thought he would ask me whether I needed some help, but instead he told me that Salvu Mallia has been working in theatre for 40 years and expresses himself theatrically.”

It was also addressed by Moira Gauci, who said she is a traditional Nationalist supporter but will be voting for Labour for the first time on June 3, after acknowledging the positive social measures introduced by the current administation.

“When I announced my decision on Facebook, many people started criticising me – calling me corrupt and ignorant and claiming that I have no idea what I’m doing.”